A report from IUCN released during the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York reveals that biodiversity is facing a critical decline.
A report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released during the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York reveals that biodiversity is facing a critical decline.
Deforestation, land degradation, and species extinctions are all trending in the wrong direction, endangering the progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report urges immediate actions to rectify the situation and expedite the implementation of the SDGs.
Dr. Grethel Aguilar, Acting Director General of IUCN, emphasized, “A sustainable future is only possible with healthy nature at its core, as this report shows. Protecting the rich web of life in the soil, on land and under water brings enormous benefits for humanity, helping to address climate change and to ensure food and water security. The SDG Summit must mark a turning point and accelerate decisive action to halt and reverse the decline of nature, for humanity’s sake.”
The report, titled “Seven years to save nature and people: A proposed set of policies and actions for the SDG Summit,” scrutinizes four ‘nature-related’ Goals: clean water and sanitation, climate action, life below water, and life on land (Goals 6, 13, 14, and 15 respectively).
IUCN holds the custodianship of five indicators for SDGs 14 and 15, derived from their work on protected areas and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
All five indicators indicate insufficient progress, with the extension of protected areas to encompass Key Biodiversity Areas, essential for species and habitats, slowing considerably across all domains. The Red List Index signals that extinction rates are now reaching unprecedented levels in human history, while the introduction of invasive species persists despite widespread adoption of legislation to prevent or control them.
The report underscores that over 12,000 species are impacted by climate change, as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Rising temperatures trigger ecological, behavioral, physiological, and genetic shifts in animals, fungi, and plants.
Additionally, the report emphasizes that although water use efficiency has improved since 2015, unsustainable water use remains a primary driver of ecosystem degradation, species loss, and poses a significant threat to human well-being.
IUCN advocates a series of policies and investments aligned with the overarching 2030 Agenda. This includes safeguarding and conserving areas crucial for biodiversity, like Key Biodiversity Areas, covering a minimum of 30% of terrestrial, inland water, marine, and coastal ecosystems.
This is vital for sustaining critical ecological processes, providing habitats for flora and fauna, and supporting the livelihoods of dependent communities. IUCN also recommends the adoption of Nature-based Solutions for climate and disaster risk reduction, alongside investments in soil and land health to foster a sustainable food system.
The report acknowledges the necessity for increased financing for biodiversity and climate efforts, as well as creating a supportive global environment for developing nations to attain the Goals. It underscores that trade policies addressing deforestation and extinction risk from imports, sustainable supply chains, subsidy reform, and circular economy approaches can positively influence conservation and sustainable development.
Sonia Peña Moreno, Director of the International Policy Centre, who contributed to the report, stated, “In addition to monitoring progress, the tools and standards that IUCN produces support collaboration, planning and action to advance the sustainable development agenda. These tools must be supported by adequate resourcing in order to ensure that they can continue to provide up-to-date, comprehensive information.”